Top travel spots

Lhasa and the Potala Palace

With the summer season fast approaching and many people in the UAE looking to book holidays whether to beat the heat or just to explore somewhere new, I thought I’d share some of my favourite places and top travel spots I’ve visited (in no particular order).

1. Jordan
Flight time is around three hours from Abu Dhabi to Amman so it’s easy to get to from the UAE for a weekend break and is usually a few degrees cooler in the Amman region. The worst of the heat tends to be in the south around Aqaba and the Wadis which are arguably the best bits – don’t miss these! I loved Jordan for some of the friendliest people I’ve ever come across, the astounding landscapes and of course, The Rose City of Petra.

The Treasury at The Rose City of Petra
The Treasury at The Rose City of Petra
Wadi Rum - check out the size of the car in the bottom right to give you an idea of how high and amazing this place is!
Wadi Rum – check out the size of the car in the bottom right to give you an idea of just how big and imposing this place is! Amazing!

2. Nepal
Only four and a half hours away by plane from Abu Dhabi, Nepal is a great place to visit for those looking for something completely different and to get absorbed in a new culture.

At the bottom of the steps to Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu
At the bottom of the steps to Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu
The hustle and bustle of Kathmandu
The hustle and bustle of Kathmandu
Nepal
Nepal

3. Oman
a. Muscat

A very short flight of only an hour or a drive of around six hours, if you haven’t been to Muscat yet while living in the UAE, there’s no excuse – book a trip immediately!

Al Alam Palace, Muscat
Al Alam Palace, Muscat
Muscat Old Port
Muscat Old Port
Tower look outs and mosques
Tower look outs and mosques
Muscat beaches
Muscat beaches

b. Musandam Peninsula, Oman
Only around four and half hours drive from Abu Dhabi, the Musandam Peninsula of Oman is a spectacular place to visit – especially if you have a four wheel drive car that you’re willing to take off road and spend a weekend camping. Off the main roads – which are already surrounded by beautiful scenery, so much so that it feels like a totally different region of the world – but to go off road means you can reach even more spectacular and much less visited areas.

Telegraph Island, Mussandam
Telegraph Island, Musandam
Hidden places in Mussandam
Hidden places in Musandam
Outstanding scenery in Musandam
Outstanding scenery in Musandam

4. Tibet

A little more tricky to get to, and the entry rules change regularly, but well worth the effort for the more intrepid traveller while it still retains its Tibetan charm. We visited a few years ago and had to go via China as the only way to get a Tibetan visa was with a group (we chose the Mountains and Monasteries trip with Intrepid Travel), and entering via China. Going via China gives you a great excuse to explore two countries at the same time – or more if you have the time! We flew from Dubai to Beijing and then overlanded from Beijing to Lhasa in Tibet, and then onto Kathmandu and India across a period of six weeks. There’s a lot of memories and places that stick out across that time, but Tibet without a doubt remains my favourite pick.

Lhasa and the Potala Palace
Lhasa and the Potala Palace
Amazing Tibet
Amazing Tibet
What is Tibet without a Yak shot?!
What is Tibet without a Yak shot?!

5. Copenhagen
You’ve read my posts on Copenhagen before, so they explain why I love this city! If you haven’t read them yet, you can find them here and here. Etihad airways doesn’t fly there direct yet but it’s simple enough to go from Abu Dhabi via Paris, Amsterdam or many of their other European routes.

Beautiful Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Beautiful Nyhavn, Copenhagen

6. Peru
Another tricky one to get to from the UAE as it’s just so bloomin’ far away, and one that I visited while I was living in London – I took part in Cancer Research UKs Trek Peru 2003 where I had to raise over GBP2500 plus a personal donation of GBP250 for the charity in order to take part. An absolutely amazing trip and a place that has forever left a mark on me.
Etihad does fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil now so South America is a little bit closer for those of us resident in the UAE, although it is still a 15 hour flight.

Trekking astounding Peru
Trekking astounding Peru
Aguas Calientes, Peru
Mind out! The train runs down the middle of the main street in Aguas Calientes, Peru

7. Egypt
An absolutely amazing country from end to end. There’s so much to see and it’s just incredible to think that it is estimated that less than 50% of the ancient Egyptian relics have been found yet. You never know what you might dig up in the desert out there!
With Cairo just less than a five hour flight from Abu Dhabi, it’s close enough to get to for a good break – if you have enough days, I definitely recommend getting out of the city and exploring some of the countries further flung places – Luxor for the Valley of Kings, Abu Simbel near Lake Nasser and the Sinai Peninsula are all top picks.

The wonder of Egyptian architecture
The wonder of Egyptian architecture
Incredible Abu Simbel
Incredible Abu Simbel

8. Florence
I adore Asia and learning about cultures new and different, but sometimes you just can’t go wrong with Europe – the architecture, the history, the landscape – the food! Italy is a vibrant and diverse place, and Florence is one beautiful city, well worth exploring.
A six hours, 40 minute flight from Abu Dhabi to Milan, Florence is an easy two and a half hour train journey away from Milan.

Picturesque Florence
Picturesque Florence
Views over Florence of the city and the famous Ponte Vecchio
Views over Florence of the city and the famous Ponte Vecchio

9. Barcelona
Another fabulous European city and one of my all time favourites. Barcelona is a colourful, arty, cosmopolitan city with plenty to see and do. Barcelona has amazing architecture and a trip to the city would not be complete without a visit to the Sagrada Familia and Gaudi’s other incredible offerings.

On the roof of Gaudi's Guell Palace
On the roof of Gaudi’s Guell Palace
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

10. Cambodia
For us Abu Dhabi residents, Etihad doesn’t fly direct to Phonm Penh, but it does fly via Bangkok and the trip takes around 11 hours. Another destination that I visited prior to living in the UAE, from London. I took the bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap, and travelled through Cambodia to Phonm Penh and Sihanoukville and back over to Bangkok by bus – all in the space of a two week holiday over the Christmas period whilst working full time in London.

The very dusty road trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap
The very dusty road trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap
Buddhist monk at Angkor Wat
Buddhist monk at Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Beautiful Sihanoukville beaches
Beautiful Sihanoukville beaches
A very unusual car ferry!
A very unusual car ferry!

So although it’s very hard to choose, those are some of my top travel picks to date. What do you think? Let me know what some of your top travel picks are.

Let me know your thoughts and comments here!

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